Bulaga knocked out of game with knee injury
SEATTLE – This must really be getting old for Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga.
The 6-foot-5, 314-pound fifth-year player was forced to leave Thursday night's season-opening game against the Seattle Seahawks with a knee injury after teammate Richard Rodgers ran into him from behind.
It's the fourth straight season Bulaga has sustained an injury. He missed the entire 2013 season after a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament sidelined him on Family Night.
Thursday's injury was somewhat of a fluke, however, when Rodgers fell into the back of Bulaga's left leg. It happened in the second quarter on a play in which Eddie Lacy ran up the middle, then bounced outside to the left for a 3-yard gain. Rodgers and Bulaga were lined up on the right side.
Both Rodgers and Bulaga were down on the field for several minutes before both walked off under their own power. Bulaga later left for the locker room and was ruled out of the game in the third quarter. Rodgers, who hurt his neck, returned in the second half.
Veteran Derek Sherrod replaced Bulaga at right tackle and the results weren't pretty.
With 7 minutes left in the third quarter and trailing 20-10, the Packers went for it on fourth-and-5 from the Seahawks' 41-yard line. But Seattle's Cliff Avril blew past Sherrod and sacked Aaron Rodgers for a 4-yard loss.
Then, on the Packers' next play from scrimmage with 4:53 left in third quarter, Sherrod was beaten badly by Michael Bennett, who then strip-sacked Rodgers. Sherrod recovered the fumble in the end zone for a safety and a 22-10 lead.
The Packers gave Sherrod help the rest of the game with tight end Andrew Quarless or fullback John Kuhn lending a hand, but it limited their offensive options.
"I'm just shaking it off and going and preparing for the next game," Sherrod said. "I mean, I can't do anything about this game now, but I can go and work hard and get ready for this next game."
Bulaga missed the final nine games of the 2012 season with a fractured hip and four games in 2011 with various knee injuries.
Also in the injury front, running back Eddie Lacy was knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter on a running play and was taken to the locker room where he was evaluated for a concussion.
The Packers offense faced an uphill battle all night, having to start nearly every one of their possessions deep inside their own territory.
Their average starting position, not counting when they recovered a fumble and started at Seattle's 34, was their 17-yard line. It wasn't until 2:27 left in the game that they started a drive better than at their 20.
In chronological order, Green Bay started at its 13, 20, 16, 20, 14, 20, 10, 18 and 24.
• Seattle scored its first touchdown when cornerback Sam Shields bit on a play fake and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix missed an open-field tackle for 33-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Ricardo Lockette.
• The Packers tried to take Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman out of the game by splitting out third receiver Jarrett Boykin almost exclusively to the right, Sherman's side. The same held true when rookie Davante Adams replaced Boykin for a series.
• Green Bay burned two of its three first-half timeouts before the end of the first quarter. The first was called when there were 12 men on the field for a Seattle field-goal attempt. Julius Peppers was visibly upset with his teammates for the mental lapse.
Their third first-half timeout was called with 2:17 left in the second quarter. Aaron Rodgers apparently didn't like what he saw from Seattle's defense and signaled for a timeout just before rookie center Corey Linsley snapped the ball. Rodgers had words with Linsley following the miscommunication.
• Linebacker Brad Jones' illegal contact penalty near the end of the first half wiped out a shared sack by Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers deep in Seattle's territory.
• The Packers reached an injury settlement with tight end Jake Stoneburner, who was waived off injured reserve. The Chicago Bears did the same with former Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings.
• The Packers fell to 5-4 season openers under coach Mike McCarthy and lost their third in a row.
-- rzizzo@pressgazettemedia or follow him on Twitter @RobertZizzo.